As we approach the end of Q1 2018, rumors are swirling around Huawei's next P series devices. This year might be different, though. Not only because rumors indicate an industry-first feature, but there's also a possibility that this year's P series will be the first to officially launch in the US.
For our US readers unfamiliar with Huawei's lineup, the company releases two flagships each year, the P series and the Mate series. Similar to Samsung with its Note and Galaxy S flagships, the Mate series is more for enthusiasts, while the P series is a more approachable flagship that focuses on appealing design, great cameras, and slightly smaller screens. There are three P series phones coming this year, so we gathered all the rumors currently and listed them down below.
Up until now, the P series naming convention has been simple — after the P9 in 2016, last year's model was the P10, for example. But this year, the name will increase by ten instead of one, meaning the 2018 models will go by the P20 moniker. This change was confirmed by reputable leaker Roland Quandt, then reaffirmed by a trademark application from Huawei.
It was also confirmed in the video below by Huawei Mobile Netherlands.
Probably the most exciting news surrounding this device is the rumored triple lens setup for the rear camera. The Leica lenses will work in tandem to create 40 MP photos and allow for 5x "hybrid zooming." Not only would this be an industry first, but a game changer. Depending on the success of the Huawei P20, manufacturers may soon flock to including the same feature into their own devices, similar to how the industry quickly adopted the dual camera setup.
While we don't know everything, we do know quite a bit about the new triple rear cameras. We rounded up all the information we could find on the P20's new triple camera, so check out the link below for more information.
One of the more polarizing additions to the P20 series is the inclusion of a notch in the display (similar to the iPhone X). This notch will house the earpiece, proximity and brightness sensors, and a 24 MP front-facing camera for the P20 and P20 Plus variants. The P20 Lite will be downgraded to 16 MP. Unfortunately, this means that the facial recognition rumored to included won't be as groundbreaking as previously thought (more on that below).
After learning that the P20 would have a notch, many speculated that the P20 would include an advanced version of Apple's Face ID. This was fueled primarily by the notch, Huawei's past attempts to emulate Apple (remember Force Touch), and the Point Cloud Depth Camera Huawei previously showed off.
During the Honor 7x and Honor View 10 announcement, Huawei revealed the Point Cloud Depth Camera. This camera is a combination of a laser projector and two LED sensors which create a "cloud" of dots to map your face. A 3D image is created using the data collected by the sensors, which is then used to authenticate you. Check out the video below for a breakdown of this technology.
Huawei claims their Point Cloud Depth Camera can create 300,000 point clouds (dots) in 10 seconds, which is 10x more than the iPhone X. The increased number of dots improves the security of the technology by improving the overall accuracy of the 3D image. However, for face unlock to happen quickly, they would use only 120,000 point clouds, which can be captured in 400ms.
Huawei even demonstrated their version of Animoji using the same technology, which was able to capture even more facial expression than the Apple's technology. While Huawei hasn't officially announced the completion of this technology, the P20, and its notch would be a great way to reveal the final product to the world.
However, WinFuture dispelled this rumor. Now that we know the contents of the notch (see above, the only facial recognition the P20 models are capable of will rely solely on the front-facing camera. While this method will still bring some of the benefits of facial recognition (such as the ability to unlock your device when your hands are full), it isn't a very secure method. Fortunately, Huawei is still including a fingerprint scanner (in the front for P20 and P20 Plus, while in the rear for the P20 Lite).
According to rumors, the P20 and P20 Plus will be powered by the Kirin 970, the same flagship SoC found in the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro. This chipset is more than capable of providing top-notch flagship performance while only being bested by the A11 Bionic and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 chipset.
One the more notable features of this chipset is the fact that it has a dedicated Neural Processing Unit. We discussed the benefits of the NPU at the link below, but the cliffs notes version is that an NPU allows for machine learning enhanced photography.
As for the P20 Lite, the SoC will downgrade a little to the Kirin 659. The is a powerful midrange SoC which is also powering the Honor 7x. According to testing by NotebookCheck, expect performance to be similar to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625.
The P20 Lite will have a 5.84" LCD screen, but as for the other variants, we aren't so sure. Even the resolution isn't confirmed, as we only know it won't be a traditional resolution thanks to the inclusion of the notch.
Thanks to XDA, we are fairly sure the P20 Plus has an OLED display after their discovery of an Always on Display feature in leaked firmware files, but we're unsure about the size of this screen.
According to XDA, the P20 will use a 6" LCD panel created by Samsung with a 2244 x 1080 resolution. If this is true, this would mean the only difference between the P20 and P20 Plus (in regards to their display) would be the panel type, with the P20 Plus opting for OLED.
It looks like Huawei will be one of the first phones to launch with the latest stable version of Android (8.1 Oreo). According to XDA, the firmware files of the Huawei P20 Plus leaked, confirming the OS version of the device. EMUI, Huawei's skin, will also be upgraded to 8.1.
This should come to no surprise as the Huawei Mate 10 was the first non-Pixel phone to ship with Android 8.0 Oreo, so it is only right they repeat the feat with 8.1.
One of the more alarming tidbits from WinFuture's leak was the loss of support for micro SD cards. Neither the P20 nor P20 Plus will include a micro SD card slot (similar to Huawei Mate 10 Pro), opting to include dual nano SIM slots instead. Fortunately, the P20 Lite will retain the expansion slot.
According to XDA, the P20 and P20 Plus will use USB 3.1 over USB Type-C. This means that data transfer via USB will be quick at 10 Gbps. No rumors have leaked if this will extend to the Lite version.
We expect Huawei to announce these P20 models on March 27, 2018, at their event in Paris, France. This was later confirmed by their series of videos which showcase the new phone and the official date for its announcement (link below for more information).
During an event in Israel, Huawei's roadmap for 2018 was leaked, which revealed the three variants of the phones and their projected release dates. P20, P20 Plus, and P20 Lite are slated for release in Q2 2018, which would ideally mean a release closer to April 2018 if they are announced in March.
Journalist Roland Quandt tweeted the European pricing for the lineup. Based on our research of past smartphones, European pricing (which includes sales tax) is typically 30% higher than US pricing before converting currencies. Considering that, we expect a price tag of approximately $600 for the P20, $750 for the P20 Plus, and $350 for the P20 Lite.
As for the potential US availability, the evidence is sketchy, but the most promising in years. As mentioned previously, rumors indicate the P20 reveal was delayed due to the US government interfering with Huawei's partnership with AT&T and Verizon.
In addition, Huawei has shown a stronger desire to enter the American market as they see it as the best pathway to becoming the number one smartphone OEM. Recently, they surpassed Apple for the number two spot, achieving this with little to no US presence. While success without carrier support (and the US government recommending to not use their devices) would be difficult, it is possible that Huawei could follow their past strategy of using Amazon and Best Buy as a way deal with these problems.
With P20 and its variants, this might the first time Americans get a worthy Android competitor to Samsung's Galaxy S series. Not only does it offer fast performance with its Kirin 970 SoC, but potentially game-changing camera performance with its three-lens array. Are you excited about the Huawei P20 line-up? Let us know in the comment below.